One Year Later: Trayvon and the Value of Black Life
On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, 17 and unarmed, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. After ignoring an order from the police department, George Zimmerman profiled, followed, confronted and murdered Trayvon. The Sanford police department and Police Chief Bill Lee, then proceeded to allow George Zimmerman to go home, a free man, with his murder weapon. Trayvon’s body was then taken to the morgue where he was classified as a John Doe.
Reflecting on the murder of Trayvon of almost one year ago, I wondered to myself, specifically, what was it about this case that made me so mad? When I first heard about his murder, via twitter, around March 11th, I was incensed. I wrote a blog that following Monday entitled, George Zimmern, the man who murdered an unarmed 17 year old boy, has still not been arrested. I happened to be at the tech, music and film festival SWSX and I was so angry that none of the parties and shows mattered anymore. That day I had a conversation with ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson about what we could do to get justice and decided I would write a song.
I remember writing the first verse of Trayvon and having to stop because I was so emotional telling the story that it brought tears to my eyes. Initially, I had intended to make the song 2 verses, but with new information coming out every day, this story specifically by the New York Times caused me to write a 3rd verse:
“On the recordings, one shot, an apparent warning or miss, is heard, followed by a voice begging or pleading, and a cry. A second shot is then heard, and the pleading stops.”
We ended up filming the video in a gated neighborhood in Austin, Texas with the help of a local Hip-Hop artist named Mirage. By Sunday night we had the video finished and sent it to Rashad and ColorOfChange to hopefully assist in having George Zimmerman brought to justice.
I think what made me so angry was the fact that not only can police shot and kill innocent people of color and get away with it, but now any average citizen can do so as well. And although 45 days later Zimmerman was arrested, today he still remains free on bail and his trial doesn’t start until late April 2013. Add that to the fact that Malcolm X Grassroots Movement report on the Extrajudicial Killing of 120 Black People, which came out a few months later, and showed Black people were being killed by police and a much smaller number of security guards and self-appointed vigilantes at a rate of one every 36 hours.
Not only are people of color still being killed, but too often we are criminalized in death to justify our murder. And unconstitutional laws like Stop and Frisk that legalize racial profiling are becoming the norm in most major cities. 1 in every 15 Black men are incarcerated, a 500% increase since 1986 and 250,000 black people have been killed as a result of “black on black” crime since 1976.
Let’s show remembrance of Trayvon and all those who have had there lives needlessly taken away by organizing and taking action. There’s more than enough work to go around. We should value one another enough to do something.